Hell in the Hallway

Recently, I prayed for a man who lost his job last winter and has been searching for another job since. It isn’t for lack of effort that he hasn’t found work yet. It seems his field is a competitive one and for whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to secure a new position.

My heart ached for him. I could feel the frustration in his voice. This in-between place he’s in is what I heard a man once refer to as the “hell in the hallway.” When God closes one door and while you’re waiting to find the next open door, you experience hell in the hallway.

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Why August is Hard For Me

I thought Sunday was going to be pretty typical. I wrote the date on our church’s keeping-in-touch form and paused. I happened to glance to my left, and at the other end of the same pew we were sitting in was a good friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. I caught a lump in my throat. The date I wrote made me realize the next day, Monday, would be three years to the day I found out I was pregnant with Harlynn. That same Friday, the friend who was now sitting at the other end of the pew, would find out she was miscarrying.

Without knowing I was pregnant, she called me that afternoon and asked me if I would just come sit with her. I did. It was a rough day for her in so many ways, and all the while I was sitting there thinking to myself, “I cannot imagine losing a baby. I cannot imagine the hopes and dreams you have for your child, suddenly gone. I cannot believe babies die.”

I had no idea those thoughts would be my reality less than eight months later.

After church, I went and hugged her, talked to her, but I couldn’t bring myself to say “I remember what tomorrow is.”

Monday morning, I woke up, feeling entirely different than I felt that Friday morning three years prior. I was in an early morning Bible study back then. That Friday, I woke up shortly after 5 a.m. to be ready for work and at study by 6:30. I went to the bathroom, took a test, and immediately saw positive. I walked back into the bedroom, grabbed my sleeping husband’s hand and said, “Brent….I’m pregnant.”
“No you’re not. Really?”
“Yes, really!”
“Wow……..Let’s pray.”

Even in his sleepy state, he led a prayer for our baby, for our family, and for the road we had ahead of us. I beamed, ear to ear, in that dark room. Little Miss was going to be a big sister. We were going to be a family of four.

I was elated. Ecstatic. August 24th, 2012, started out as a most incredible Friday for me.

Three years later, it chokes me up. I made a choice this year, to hold on to remembering how very happy I was that morning. How very loved Harlynn was from the first moment we found out about her. How the first thing her daddy did for her was pray out loud. It still chokes me up, yes, but what testimony to how we loved her from the start.

The last several days have been emotional. Remembering the date has only been part of it. Schools are starting everywhere, and though she would only be two years old right now, I’m left thinking of our child other classmates will never know. Our oldest is starting Kindergarten, and that brings enough emotional weight of its own.

Since losing Harlynn, fall has been especially difficult for me. It’s still my favorite season, but the transition it represents, the anniversary it holds, the new tradition of the balloon release we honor each year, the omen of the weather waiting for us ahead – all of it comes together and puts a physical weight upon my grief. I can’t get out from under it. While I love fall, I struggle when it arrives. It signifies a closing – an end. The green grass will wither away, the leaves will disappear from trees, the ground will be masked by walls of white. An end to summer. An end.

Last Friday evening, I took the kids to the cemetery so we could visit Harlynn’s site and browse the grounds for deer. Not only did we see mule deer and whitetail roaming around, but just as in a similar moment in 2013, I had a leaf fly awkwardly up to my window, rest upon it long enough for me to get a picture, and then flutter quietly away. In a way, I hoped it meant a new beginning. A new season of memories I’ll capture, moments I think about our baby girl, and more moments to feel like I’m connecting with her, some way, from this side of heaven.

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I contemplated whether or not I should write this post at all. Does everyone need to know why this time of year is so hard for me? The fact is, no, not everyone needs to know. But maybe one person does. Maybe one person needs to know it’s okay, three years on, 30 years on, to remember that day she found out she was pregnant and live out those mixed emotions.

It will never be easy. I will never be able to predict what will affect me or to what degree. But for now, I’ll remember that morning of August 24th, the prayer my husband led for our second child, and the hopes and dreams we started building in that very moment.